Annie's Mailbox: Newphew struggles to get back in job market

Dear Annie: My nephew was involved in a robbery when he was only 19 and paid for it with 10 years of his life. While he was incarcerated, he got his GED and took various classes to prepare himself for a possible job opportunity upon his release. He was discharged two years ago and has been a model citizen since. He's tried everything to find work, but no one will hire him.

He has taken placement tests for apprentice jobs (and scored very well). It's always the same - every company requires a background check, and once they see his record, he is not even given a chance.

I know times are hard, but he is willing to do any minimum wage job just to feed himself. He finally got an interview to join an electrical union, and they turned him down because he had no job experience. But how can he get it?

My nephew lives in his car. What are people in his circumstances supposed to do to earn a legitimate living?

- Concerned Aunt

Dear Aunt: Many states have programs to help ex-offenders re-enter the job market, and your nephew might have better luck checking city hall or the governor's office about local programs. He also can contact the Safer Foundation (saferfoundation.org) at 571 W. Jackson, Chicago, IL 60661; the National Hire Network (hirenetwork.org); the U.S. Dept. of Labor (www.doleta.gov/usworkforce/ onestop/onestopmap.cfm) at 1-877-US2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627) or servicelocator.org. Goodwill Industries has been known to help with job training and placement, and the military also accepts some enlistees who have a criminal record.

Dear Annie: My 88-year-old mother is dying. For years, she spent $5,000 annually on long-term health care insurance. We contacted her insurance agency and wanted a nurse to come to the house at night so my sister, who lives with Mom, would not be alone. We were told Mom would have to pay out of pocket for the first 30 days. My mother does not have 30 days left to live. She has more than $140,000 worth of insurance paid up, and when she tried to use it, this is what happened.

I think this is a disgrace, and we are looking into hiring a lawyer. Please tell your readers to check the fine print on those policies. I hope this letter will help somebody else.

- Angry in Vermont

Dear Vermont: You can be certain it will. When signing any document, it is wise to read it with a magnifying glass and, if possible, have an attorney look it over. We appreciate your warning and hope you can get this settled to your satisfaction.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Shorty's Mom," the mother of an 18-year-old who is 4 feet 11 inches and weighs 95 pounds. That was me 28 years ago. Throughout high school, I always was the shortest and was definitely a "late bloomer," as were my father and my two sons.

Now, at 44, I still get carded and am met with astonishment when I tell people that I have two adult sons. Being a late bloomer is tough, but as you said in your reply, the benefits are reaped when everyone else is showing signs of normal aging while we don't.

"Shorty's Mom" should let her daughter know that right now looking like a child may be insulting, but she will definitely enjoy it when she is older.

- J.J.

Dear J.J.: Thanks for weighing in.

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